September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Palm Springs – A Natural Attraction

Posted: Monday, June 3rd, 2013

by Tracy Albrecht

Attendees at the 2013 California Science Education Conference will find themselves in the heart of living laboratory. This region of California holds remarkable natural diversity that stimulates exciting connections and science discovery for students. Within only a few miles of the conference headquarters you’ll find a shifting terrain that varies from steep granite mountains to sand dunes, to a huge inland sea. These environments hold a fascinating array of stunning geology and strange plants and animals that showcase examples of adaptation to the Colorado Desert.

Cradling the desert floor known as the Coachella Valley, the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument forms a striking backdrop to the south that transforms in color and texture from hour to hour. This mountain zone provides trails where hikers can find solitude and quietness, not to mention scenic vistas and lush natural palm oases. The central canyon here is called Palm Canyon and it houses a year-round stream flow that supports the largest desert fan palm oasis in North America. Rising 8500 feet above the desert floor, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway offers access to hiking and photography trips in this famous San Jacinto State Park wilderness.  A towering peak of 10,834 feet provides an accessible beacon for visitors who take the opportunity to explore this area.Indian Canyons

To the north are more subdued but active mountains that directly result in San Andreas Fault activity. The San Andreas Fault System, and the crustal stresses it represents, is responsible for most of the valley’s dramatic relief. In the Little San Bernardino Mountains one can see the fault in action from fault gauge to canyon displacement to surface water supporting a natural palm oasis. Just north of the Little San Bernardino Mountains is Joshua Tree National Park, an icon for Mojave Desert landscape.

Finally, to the south is California’s largest inland body of water, the Salton Sea. It was created in 1905 when floodwaters from the Colorado River overran a poorly conceived irrigation development. Today is attracts thousands of migratory waterfowl each fall.

This conference will provide endless opportunities for attendees to grow and learn by experiencing the unequaled sense of place that Palm Springs offers. Whether you walk in downtown Palm Springs under the bright stars or see expressions of the San Andreas Fault in the landscape, science themes abound to the observant person. As habitat for animals such as the bighorn sheep, chuckwalla lizard and roadrunner, watchable wildlife sites are just a morning’s walk away from the conference site and further developed with a host of field study opportunities. We hope your conference experience is inspired even more by a connection to the natural world of Palm Springs.chuckwallaLR

Tracy Albrecht is an Interpretive Specialist at the Bureau of Land Management and a member of the CSTA Conference Planning Committee.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.